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The White Queen

Sun Jun 16, 9-10pm, BBC1

Series one, episode one
It might have seemed like a no-brainer to commission a ten-part adaptation of a best-selling novel cycle. Especially when said cycle involves sword fights, political scheming, incestuous relationships and dynastic warfare: the influence of ‘Game of Thrones’ is becoming increasingly insidious.

But this summer blockbuster, based on Philippa Gregory’s Wars of the Roses book series, ‘The Cousin’s War’, does spring a few surprises. Firstly, the cast: mostly young, little known and strikingly attractive from the bewitching lead (Rebecca Ferguson) on down. Secondly, it walks the tightrope between camp and po-faced with admirable agility. And thirdly, it’s really rather good. The compelling story at its heart helps, of course: the wooing of the victorious King Edward IV of York (Max Irons) by Lancastrian commoner Elizabeth Woodville (Ferguson), much to the discomfort of those closest to both.

The cast is big enough and varied enough to accommodate a range of styles and approaches. And it’s evocatively filmed, all the better for avoiding CGI (so far at least). If you know the story, you’ll know you’re in for quite a ride. And if not? Well, the same applies.

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